News In Brief

The US

Kentucky voters chose two congressmen to vie for a vacant US Senate seat held by Democrats since 1974. Rep. Scotty Baesler narrowly won the most expensive primary in Kentucky history, beating five Democratic opponents, including multimillionaire businessman Charlie Owen. Baesler won 34 percent of the vote, Owen 30 percent, and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry 27 percent. Rep. Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, easily won the GOP primary - receiving 74 percent to state Sen. Barry Metcalf's 26 percent.

Federal Trade Commission lawyers are preparing charges that Intel Corp., maker of chips at the heart of nearly all personal computers, illegally abused monopoly power to hurt rivals, sources familiar with the case said. Within a week, top FTC officials are to review the proposed charges against the Santa Clara, Calif., company, the sources said. An FTC spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny the report.

Gateway Inc. said it would let buyers choose which Internet browsers they use in its home computers after winning a concession from Microsoft. Government lawyers have sued Microsoft over allegedly restrictive contracts that force PC firms such as Gateway to feature Microsoft's Internet software. According to the Gateway announcement, customers, beginning next week, will be able to choose either Netscape or Microsoft software as their "default" Internet browsers.

President Clinton projected a record $39 billion US budget surplus for fiscal 1998. A surplus would be the first since 1969. The forecast brought a quick call for a tax cut from leading congressional Republicans. But Clinton reiterated his position that all surpluses be reserved pending an overhaul of the Social Security system.

The US is cutting its military presence in the Persian Gulf roughly in half, the Pentagon announced. This will return US Gulf forces to about the same size as before the buildup earlier this year in response to Iraq's refusal to allow full UN weapons inspections. The decision will reduce the number of US troops in the Gulf from 37,000 to about 20,000.

Clinton said Russia has not carried out a law widely seen as discriminating against minority religions. Under US law, the president must certify that Russia's Law on Religion has not been implemented in order for US aid to continue to flow to Moscow. The law, enacted last September, names Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism as Russia's traditional religions and imposes a variety of regulations on minority and so-called foreign faiths.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank less than 24 hours after a State Department spokesman said Secretary of State Albright was "extremely troubled" by a Gingrich remark that she is an agent for the Palestinians. Gingrich is visiting the Middle East as part of a congressional delegation.

Glaciers outside arctic regions are melting at a faster rate than previously thought, providing a strong indication of of global warming, a new study said. As a consequence, glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park will disappear in 50 to 70 years, according to a report by University of Colorado geologist Mark Meier at an American Geophysical Union meeting in Boston. He said melting ice caps contribute to rising sea levels, beach erosion, and inland storms.

A federal judge delayed the trial of 14 members of the Montana Freemen for at least a day after one of the defendants fell ill. The defendants are charged with a string of crimes that culminated in an 81-day standoff with FBI agents at a remote Montana ranch in 1996.

The US should have informed Mexico about a recent undercover operation there, Clinton told Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. US law-enforcement officials said Mexico was not informed because they did not want to endanger participating undercover agents. Despite his concern over the incident, Zedillo pledged continued anti-drug cooperation with the US. The sting operation culminated last week in 160 indictments.

The World

Russian President Yeltsin held emergency talks with his senior aides to discuss the country's rapidly worsening financial crisis. Panic selling on the Moscow stock exchange sent share prices to two-year lows as newspapers speculated that Yeltsin was preparing to announce a devaluation of the ruble. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov blamed the crisis on Yeltsin's free-market policies and called for an early election to replace him.

Tuesday's 150-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average sent stock prices tumbling across Asia in reaction. Among the steepest drops was the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong, which lost just under 500 points. The territory also braced for tomorrow's scheduled release of gross-domestic-product figures, which are expected to reflect a 14-year high in unemployment.

With the initial euphoria over India's nuclear weapons tests wearing off, opposition politicians took the Hindu nationalist government to task for conducting them when "we can't supply ordinary water and electricity" to residents of New Delhi. They spoke in Parliament after the World Bank indefinitely postponed a decision on extending $855 million in development loans because of the tests. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told lawmakers he was ready to discuss a "no first use" agreement on nuclear weapons with Pakistan or other interested nations.

Most of the necessary preparations for a Pakistani nuclear weapons test are complete, a US intelligence official said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said data gathered by spy satellites showed extensive tunneling and the placement of monitoring equipment and observation posts at a site in the Chagai Hills in remote western Pakistan. Analysts said a nuclear test would be a diplomatic defeat for the US, which has urged Pakistan not to match those of India.

Police kept their distance in South Korea's major cities as tens of thousands of workers began two days of nationwide strikes, ignoring government warnings that labor unrest would scare off badly needed foreign investment. The walkout was called by the Confederation of Trade Unions, which vowed to organize an even larger strike next month unless massive industrial-sector layoffs are halted.

Danish police braced for possible street violence as voters head to the polls today for a referendum on reforming European Union institutions. Its outcome is considered too close to call. Analysts say voters are torn between a desire for European cooperation and dislike of EU interference that reduces Danish sovereignty. Forty-one people were hurt in rioting in 1993 - the worst since World War II - after voters OK'd an earlier EU referendum.

As many as 38,000 people now have fled the fighting in the volatile Abkhazia region of Georgia - and many of them are using railroad cars for shelter, reports said. Another cease-fire between separatists and militiamen who support the Georgian government - the second in less than a week - took effect. But shooting could still be heard in ethnic-Georgian towns despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers.

A 1996 announcement that scientists had found artifacts placing Aborigines in Australia much earlier than previously believed appears to have been wrong, the journal Nature reported. Tools and Jinmium rock art estimated at 75,000 to 176,000 years old were unearthed 280 miles southwest of Darwin. But the finds now are believed to be no older than 10,000 years, an expert said. The original announcement caused a sensation, since Aborigines were thought to have migrated to Australia from Asia just 60,000 years ago.


" They're selling at any price they can get. It's irrational."

- Financial analyst Martin Diggle in Moscow, as chaotic trading on the Russian stock market plunged share prices to their lowest levels in years and prompted speculation that the ruble would be devalued.

The Philippines, which - as cited in this space last week - has introduced the world's largest currency, is at it again. From Manila comes word that shipments of sexually explicit magazines seized by customs on their arrival in the country - and weighing more than a ton - have been shredded so they can be diverted to a new purpose. At no charge, a recycling company will turn the shreds into high-quality blank paper for use in printing Bibles.

Arriving in the mail last week at the Garmize home in Wright Township, Pa., was a notice from the Selective Service Commission ordering Sam Garmize to register for military duty. Now, the family regards itself as patriotic and all that, but it has served notice that Sam won't be complying. And not because he's too busy taking advantage of other recent mailings, such as an offer to study abroad in a foreign exchange program. No, it's because Sam is a parrot. He apparently once was listed as a family member on a survey form. Sighed a Selective Service official: "Sometimes we get a dog; sometimes a cat. This time, we got a parrot."

The Day's List

'Godzilla': Its Big Gross Was Still Disappointing

"Godzilla" apparently is failing to live up to monster-size expectations. It came nowhere near shattering, as some thought it might, the $90.2-million record opening for a four-day holiday weekend by "Lost World: Jurassic Park," which made its debut at the same time last year. Still, the film did net the largest opening take this year. Grosses for top movies at North American theaters May 22-25 (in millions):

"Godzilla" $55.7

"Deep Impact" 19.4

"The Horse Whisperer" 14.5

"Bulworth" 10.5

"Quest for Camelot" 6.3

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" 4.3

"Titanic" 3.7

"City of Angels" 3.2

"He Got Game" 1.8

"Paulie" 1.4

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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